Pope Francis has expressed concerns about a traditional translation of the Lord’s Prayer, an ancient prayer that Jesus Christ taught his disciples and is repeated by Christians around the world today.
The current wording of the prayer in the Catholic liturgical tradition contains a line that says, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
But Francis suggested that this common translation may be misleading.
In an interview with the Italian Catholic channel TV2000, published on YouTube Wednesday, the pontiff pointed out that God isn’t the one who leads humans to sin. That’s Satan’s job, Francis said.
“It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation,” the pope said, according to a translation provided by The Guardian.
“I am the one who falls; it’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”
The pope then referred to the French Catholic church, which has started using the phrase “do not let us fall into temptation.”
The Lord’s Prayer appears in two books of the Christian New Testament. It is a foundational prayer in Christianity, and is used as a form of worship and supplication by Christians in many denominations.
Catholics say the prayer during Mass and while praying the rosary.
Children memorize the prayer as part of their religious education. It is also common practice for Christians to analyze every line of the prayer, using it to glean insights about how Jesus wanted his followers to live and pray.
The pope’s comments were part of just such an endeavor. The TV2000 program that he appeared on is just one episode in a series that the channel is doing that studies the lines of The Lord’s Prayer.
Austen Ivereigh, a British Catholic journalist who wrote the definitive biography on Francis, told The Guardian that he wasn’t aware of plans to officially change the Lord’s Prayer translation in the English world.
“But you can certainly see the logic of doing so,” Ivereigh said. “It is not God who tempts us into sin but the enemy of human nature. But tradition and familiarity are also important factors in weighing up any decision to modify a translation.”